It’s a Farm Bill Year. But the current version is still in negotiations between the House and the Senate – and the fast-approaching deadline for congressional action is September 30th 2018.
Last month we co-sponsored a Farm Bill Forum coordinated by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, NSAC, National Young Farmers Coalition, and Food & Health Network of SCNY. Here is some of what we learned and ways to take action.
Certain programs that support the environment, low-income families, and farming are in threat of of being cut in the 2018 Farm Bill. 80% of the USDA’s budget is allocated for “nutrition” programs including SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). About 44 million people participated in SNAP each month in 2016, at an annual cost of $70.9 billion. That’s a lot of money! Nearly two-thirds of SNAP users in 2016 were under 18, over 60 or disabled, according to the USDA. One version of the Farm Bill threatens to enforce an 80-hour per month working requirement for SNAP recipients – which creates more barriers for individuals in need of access to food. Our country has not adopted living wage laws. People are forced to choose between eating, medical care, and rent. Until we change the pervasive systemic imbalances, caretakers of all those people including, children, elders and disabled are depending on the government to ensure that their benefits allow them access to affordable, fresh, healthy and local food that are culturally appropriate.
Also at threat is funding to support beginning farmers and farmers of color, conservation programs for farmers, subsidies for organic certification, and other programs that benefit small sustainable farms. For example, several of Groundswell’s current or previous funding sources are in threat of being defunded.
So what can YOU do?
- Get educated and stay in the know: follow the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) or the Young Farmers Coalition for important updates.
- Call and/or write your representatives in the House and Senate using this link. First time caller? Print out this handy cheat sheet! It only takes a few minutes and has a HUGE impact on your representatives. Feeding America and other anti-hunger groups will be holding a call-in day on September 13th urging Congress to protect SNAP and other nutrition programs in the Farm Bill.
- Join us for the next Farming for Justice Discussion on the Farm Bill on October 10th 9am-10:30am with special guests NSAC and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
Your Friends at Groundswell